by Alex Misiazek '21
For the past four years, I have been conducting independent research into the emerging field of synthetic biology. As part of this work I have been fascinated by the possibilities that this field of science promises. The ability to modify and control the very stuff of life is no longer science fiction. This ability is more powerful than any person could begin to imagine. Manipulating organisms at the genetic level opens the door to a host of possibilities, such as designer babies, extinct species resurrection, and species modification, to name a few.
As I have learned more I have also begun to wonder what some of the implications are for human society. More dangerous possibilities have arisen as result of the emergent field of biotechnology, such as advanced biological weapons and genetic doping in athletics. How will society grapple with the issues created by these advances? At face value, issues in the field of biotechnology typically cause people to have a gut reaction either for or against the particular issue. In reality, however, each issue warrants deeper discussion as each facet of the real world implications of the technology are examined. For example, the idea of researching biological weapons seems inherently sinister and researching them should be illegal. However, if thought of from a different perspective, the same research needed to create a biological weapon would need to be conducted to create an antidote. Therefore, should all research into biological weapons be illegal?
In order to explore these new and relevant topics, I have founded a club with Dr. O’Brien where we will discuss and debate, listen to expert speakers, and voice our opinions on bioethics. Bioethics Club has already had a couple of meetings with a great turnout. I intend to hold meetings every F-day flex with occasional guest speakers throughout the year. Members will be eligible to vote on the next meeting’s topic via email polls. Also, there will be donuts.
Get out to that.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining.